Silver Gilt Fede Wedding Ring with Inscribed Band
This is a superb medieval silver-gilt betrothal/wedding ring, dating to the 14th - 15th century A.D. The band is inscribed with IESVS NACER / AVE Maria. The bezel having deeply cut and engraved representation of a clasped hand (fede). Traces of the original mercurial gold gilding remain. It is a very 'showy' piece of wearable medieval jewelry - originally worn as a wedding band / with a protective inscription.
Medieval lovers gave each other rings, and rings were used to mark betrothals and weddings, but among surviving rings, it is impossible today to distinguish these different uses. Such rings are generally called 'fede' (faith) rings. Rings showing clasped hands first appeared in Roman times when they represented a legal contract. Since the clasping of hands was part of the medieval betrothal ceremony, it is not surprising to find rings that can be attributed to the 'wedding ring' genre. Either way, it would be impossible to distinguish this ring as commemorative of love, betrothal or marriage - what we can say is that this ring would have been given to a man to wear. During this period a strict code of sumptuary laws forbade the wearing of silver and gold jewelry to lower classes in society, thus we can be sure this gentleman would have been a knight or nobleman.
OBJECT: Wedding Ring
DATE: c. 1350 - 1450 A.D.
RING SIZE: 8 (US) Q (UK)
SIZE: 21mm x 23mm x 8mm
WEIGHT: 4.84 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. European Private Collection